Thursday, April 30, 2020

Illinois Is Not Sending Us Their Best Strippers

Every once in a while, a non-COVID-19 related news story pops up, and it is a relief to recount it. Yesterday's tale was the arrest of a distraught woman from Illinois in the vicinity of the USS Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, which she believed was the USNS Comfort hospital ship. Being a high-class publication, the NY Post coverage makes clear that the woman is a stripper... that's precisely the titillating content that this Murdoch rag promulgates.

Of course, the deranged woman is a QAnon follower, and she ranted about Hillary Clinton and John Podesta, and spoke about taking down Joe Biden. Apparently, she's been a Trump supporter for a while, but she's active in the QAnon community for a couple of weeks and had a rapid downward spiral into madness. The fact that she had eighteen knives is her car suggests that she was no longer willing to 'Trust the Plan' and sought to take matters into her own hands. Eighteen knives! I don't even have that many knives in my house, including the flatware.

The video of her arrest is unsettling, but she was apprehended without incident and sent to a hospital for evaluation:

The whole QAnon thing fascinates me... I believe it started out as a LARP started by a troll, but morphed into a grift that morphed into a cult. I am reminded of the titular play in Robert Chambers' The King in Yellow, a work of art that has the power to unhinge the reader:

During my convalescence I had bought and read for the first time, The King in Yellow. I remember after finishing the first act that it occurred to me that I had better stop. I started up and flung the book into the fireplace; the volume struck the barred grate and fell open on the hearth in the firelight. If I had not caught a glimpse of the opening words in the second act I should never have finished it, but as I stooped to pick it up, my eyes became riveted to the open page, and with a cry of terror, or perhaps it was of joy so poignant that I suffered in every nerve, I snatched the thing out of the coals and crept shaking to my bedroom, where I read it and reread it, and wept and laughed and trembled with a horror which at times assails me yet. This is the thing that troubles me, for I cannot forget Carcosa where black stars hang in the heavens; where the shadows of men's thoughts lengthen in the afternoon, when the twin suns sink into the lake of Hali; and my mind will bear for ever the memory of the Pallid Mask. I pray God will curse the writer, as the writer has cursed the world with this beautiful, stupendous creation, terrible in its simplicity, irresistible in its truth—a world which now trembles before the King in Yellow. When the French Government seized the translated copies which had just arrived in Paris, London, of course, became eager to read it. It is well known how the book spread like an infectious disease, from city to city, from continent to continent, barred out here, confiscated there, denounced by Press and pulpit, censured even by the most advanced of literary anarchists. No definite principles had been violated in those wicked pages, no doctrine promulgated, no convictions outraged. It could not be judged by any known standard, yet, although it was acknowledged that the supreme note of art had been struck in The King in Yellow, all felt that human nature could not bear the strain, nor thrive on words in which the essence of purest poison lurked. The very banality and innocence of the first act only allowed the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect.

The QAnon Conspiracy Complex is perfectly tailored to further radicalize Trump dead-enders. It posits that Trump is a super-genius of sterling moral character, that his opponents are evil beyond all possible redemption, and that all of the Deplorables' foes will meet a sticky end, tried and executed by military tribunals. The end result is supposed to be a utopia in which the formerly despised conspiracy theorists will become revered leaders, recognized for the wisdom which led them to see what the 'normies' were unable to see in time. It's a heady narrative, but the fact that it's not coming to fruition is driving people to madness... in a very real sense, as Chambers would put it, the very banality and innocence of the first act only allows the blow to fall afterward with more awful effect.

Title taken from this infamous Trump quote.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Trump's Vietnam

It's official, the toll of Americans lost to COVID-19 has surpassed the toll of Americans lost in the course of the Vietnam War. Cadet Bone Spurs has failed upwards to become Commander Brain Spurs, and lord love a duck, the country would be better off if he went AWOL. Reporter Olivia Nuzzi asked Trump the real question, regarding his fitness for office, and received a rambling response which ducked the issue.

It's odd that an infectious outbreak would turn out to be Trump's Vietnam, considering that, in 1997, Trump joked to Howard Stern that sleeping around was his personal Vietnam. I was a mere pup when the Vietnam War ended, but I saw the effect it had on my parents' generation, and indeed, on members of my own extended family. The war was a disaster, fought to prop up the dying vestiges of colonialism, in contradiction to our (and France's) stated revolutionary ideals. Trump, who used his dad's money and connections to avoid combat, made light of the war and its toll... that should have been a major warning sign that he was a sociopath who had no compunctions about Americans dying. The fact that COVID-19 is disproportionately killing people of color might even give Trump and his Deplorables a frisson of delight. Maya Angelou imparted perhaps the greatest bit of advice regarding the navigation of this life:

Trump showed us what a callous monster he was, and enough people gave him the benefit of the doubt... sixty-thousand dead Americans later, the very idea that some people still support him is baffling and enraging. Do they really think Trump needs to destroy America in order to make America great again? Actually, I don't think I want to know the answer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Meaningless Gesture

I heard it, around half-past noon, but I couldn't be bothered looking, because I considered it a Debordian spectacle... the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds flew overhead. Taxpayer dollars that should have been spent on securing PPE and ventilators have been pissed away on an empty gesture. Being a cynical man, I have to note that Trump loves his 'stolen valor', he's the draft dodger who says he wanted a Purple Heart, throws dictator-style military parades, the guy who wants to drag West Pointers back for graduation to satisfy his grandiosity.

We need a president who is serious about this national crisis, rather than a spoiled child who thinks that the military is his 'toy soldier' set. Here in New York, at the epicenter of the outbreak in the US, we can't be bought off or wowed by such empty, wasteful gestures.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Trying to Get In

This being spring, the pond at my workplace is a veritable orgy, audibly so. A couple of nights ago, I found this neighbor trying to get in the building, or at least trying to get somewhere:

I had this notion that this toad, a chunk slightly smaller than my fist, was confused by the lights and reflections in the window in front of the building, perhaps thinking it was the reflective surface of the pond. I gently picked it up and placed it in a vegetated section close to the pond. I'd like to think that this time of human social distancing that I was helping to make a batrachian connection... can't achieve amplexus from six feet away.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

That Dawning Realization

My work schedule has not changed one bit since the social distancing rules have been put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. The only thing that has changed appreciably on the job is the end-of-shift disinfection of the company phone, a couple of doorknobs, and the bathroom sink faucet handles. My social life has taken a nosedive, but the bulk of my weekly routine is unchanged... I typically limit my supermarket trips to a Wednesday night stop to pick up milk for my workplace coffee habit and some staples and a Sunday morning post-shift trip to pick up whatever I can for the week's meals. There's the occasional stop at a mom-and-pop shop or a pizzeria to add a bit of variety to the diet, but I tend to limit these to once a week as well.

I don't feel a need to lash out about the social distancing orders, and I dutifully don mask and gloves before stepping into an establishment. I have a decent layperson's understanding of epidemiology. Looking at the pictures of the recent protests in Austin, TX and Pacific Beach, CA, I had a dawning realization about a dawning realization (a metarealization, if you will)... the reason why these protestors are so angry is that they have come to the realization that they aren't essential. Despite their huge egos, this Ark B crowd has finally come to the realization that they aren't necessary for society's fundamental functions, and they are willing to put people's lives at risk because of this.

ADDENDUM: I've had a dawning realization that the 'protestors' aren't really like the 'Ark B' crowd, because the 'Ark B' crowd's exile was actually detrimental, and that none of these 'protestors' seems like the type to sanitize a phone.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Schrödinger's Hashtag, Schrödinger's Dictator

Towards the tail end of the graveyard shift this morning, I happened to see a trending hashtag on Twitter: #kimjongundead. I was immediately struck by the ambiguity of the hashtag- did it signify 'Kim Jong Un Dead' or 'Kim Jong Undead'? At the time I am writing this, Kim Jong Un, like Schrödinger's cat, is simultaneously dead and not-dead, existing in an undead quantum state.

The image of an undead Kim Jong Un, in my smartass mind, conjures up a paranormal romance between Trump and a vampire Kim, a sort of Twilight featuring two dumpy male leads. I really wish my photomanipulation skills were up to par... I really need to download GIMP again, with this quarantine on, I have time to practice using it.

It's still a little premature to write the lyrics to 'Rocketman Kim Jong's Dead':

Though when he croaks, it's a certainty that the North Korean regime will have virginal brides file past his tomb.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Newsflash: Rich Old Lady Doesn't Eat Cat Food!!!

In this all-coronavirus-all-the-time news climate, it takes a lot for a non-COVID-19 story to break out, but the right-wing outrage machine tried to make a big deal about the expensive ice cream in Nancy Pelosi's freezer. Nancy Pelosi is not a socialist, no matter what Republicans say, she is a wealthy, well-connected woman who can afford $12/pint ice cream. If she were a socialist, their outrage would be just as ridiculous- my friend Frenchie, the man who took my profile picture back in the day, once told me, "Republicans hate nothing more than a socialist who has more money than they do." These are the same sort of people who tried to portray Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez' Yorktown family home, pretty much a 'starter place' not much bigger than a bungalow, as a demesne. They support a trust-fund baby with a gold-plated toilet who pretty much says 'let them drink Lysol', but they howl when a successful elderly woman doesn't subsist on cat food, or at least gruel.

I have to confess to being decadent myself. Since I haven't spent any money in a bar since March 10, I've been buying the fancy 79-cent/pound Savoy cabbage instead of the 59-cent/pound green cabbage. Oo La La, Mr Fancypants!

In the interest of full disclosure, I've been subsisting mainly on 'perpetual stews', pretty much the sort of stone soup that we would call 'suicide stew' as young-uns (empty the fridge and cupboards into a pot and pray that it's good, as it invariably is). A couple of incarnations of this have been based on Iberian cocidos or fabadas, bean soups simmered with bits of meat and a variety of vegetables, with tonight's being lima beans with Linguiça- Savoy cabbage just seems appropriate for these dishes. It's funny, my favorite YouTube chef just posted a video recipe for something not unlike what's been simmering on my stovetop all day:

He even mentions throwing stinging nettles into the soup as the 'green' component. Now, THAT is a luxury that anyone can afford.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Put Howard Devoto on the COVID-19 Task Force

I was forewarned by my upstairs neighbor, who had watched a bit of the briefing while I was still asleep after working the graveyard shift. She, being an Armagh girl, pronounced Trump 'fuckin' daft' and mentioned his bit about powerful light killing the novel coronavirus. Now that I have a bit of time to watch coverage of the travesty while my coffee brews, it's a doozy:

Yeah, this idea of shining a powerful light inside the body smacks of the old (hey, it seems like a century ago) urban legend about killing COVID-19 with a blow dryer aimed up the nose. There was also the charming bit which seems to imply that he thinks injecting Lysol will kill this thing too.

If Trump is going to allocate research dollars to using light internally to destroy COVID-19 viruses, he'd better call Howard Devoto, the world's foremost expert on internal light:

With any luck, they'll have this pandemic problem solved before the rainy season.

On a serious note, he's so damn desperate for a 'miracle cure' that he will be touting actual snake oil before this thing runs its course.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Farewell, Good Professor

This isn't an easy post to write... I imagine that a lot of writers are in the same situation, dealing with the loss of friends. Last week, Dr Milan Fryščák, professor emeritus of the Slavic Languages Department of NYU, lost a battle with COVID-19 at the age of eighty-seven. The good professor had an eventful life, having grown up in a Czechoslovakia invaded by first the Nazis and then the Soviets. His life reads like a political thriller, involving jumping ship and navigating his way through refugee camps until he could emigrate to the 'States. He and his wife became pillars of the Czech expatriate community, and I would bet actual folding money that he knew every single member of the Czech-American academic community. After the Velvet Revolution, he began a study abroad program in Prague for NYU students, and triumphantly returned to the Czech Republic on a regular basis.

For me, though, he was primarily a gracious host, a dear family friend. Many summer evenings I spent at the Fryščák home, with the brothers F., the good professor and his brilliant wife (a longtime employee of the CBC who transitioned to NPR when the CBC downsized its New York operations). I can picture him, a bear of a man, with spatula in hand, presiding over the charcoal grill, or seeing this bakers' son beaming beatifically as he pulled a tray of gorgeous, perfectly braided rolls out of the oven. Besides being hospitable, he was a witty man, always ready with a quick quip, even in a conversation in which he was imparting his wisdom concerning weighty international affairs or the mid-to-late twentieth history that had thrown him across an ocean, where he had accomplished great things. Of course, there was also the time when he introduced us to, and got us hooked on, Żubrówka, then ruefully-yet-drolly told us, "You can't get it here, boys." At least Becherovka was readily available as a summer tipple.

One summer, a bunch of us went up for a long weekend at a friend's family's cabin in the Adirondacks. Rather than driving straight home, we took the ferry from Plattsburgh, New York to Burlington, Vermont and drove south through Vermont just so we could have lunch with the professor at Norwich University, where he taught an immersive language class for a few weeks every summer. Professor Fryščák was the sort of person you drive three or four hours out of your way to have lunch with. He was also the sort of person who would effusively greet a bunch of scruffy twenty-somethings who had been bathing in a lake for days.

Condolences to my dear friends, the Good Professor was one-of-a-kind, and I am filled with gratitude for having known him and learned from him.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Grand Theft, Groceries

It felt like a heist, or a movie scene depicting a heist... car parked, mask on, gloves on, loot bags in hand. Yeah, this was a trip to the Stop-and-Shop near my workplace, visited after the graveyard shift. It feels strange, kitting myself out as if I were going to rob a liquor store before entering the supermarket.

Other bandits had hit the place before I did. The paper goods section (visited just for 'journalistic' purposes, I bought a twelve-pak a couple of months ago, by which I mean centuries ago) was still bare, and the frozen vegetable aisle reminded me of a piranha-skeletonized cow from a lurid old travel film. There was cheese to be had, but not much, and I was able to score a couple of packages of chicken thighs and a small pork roast (made into Philly style sandwiches with sauteed spinach and provolone cheese). As always, the cashier was cheerful, though overworked... the girl on duty is a sweet-faced Dominican-American lass who told me that, in the initial craziness and panic shopping, she took off a couple of weeks due to stress, but that finances necessitated a return to work, and cabin fever made it endurable. Generally speaking, I didn't see any churlishness while shopping, everybody seems to be resigned to the new abnormal. I suspect that we have learned patience from lives involving waiting on lines, waiting for public transportation, living in crowded neighborhoods.

At any rate, everybody was well-behaved, we just looked like a bunch of criminals.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Snot Heard 'Round the World

Again, far-right loons have congregated in this time of pandemic, increasing the likelihood that the 'curve-flattening' needed to slow the spread of infection will fail. They try to portray themselves as brave revolutionaries, but they come across as snotty babies, appropriate for this time of respiratory infections:

Estimates put the crowd at about 2,500 attendees, some of whom seem to be signalling that they are neo-Nazi accelerationists hoping for a second civil war. The Hawaiian shirts are a dogwhistle for 'Big Luau', itself a code for 'boogaloo', the term for 'Civil War 2':

These nationwide rallies are the result of an astroturfing campaign, boosted by Fox.

These idiots are going to get people killed, by something that their treasured weapons cannot handle. I'd be a lot less upset by this if the toll were limited to other CHUDs, but they will endanger medical personnel and other innocent people. I've written about how my co-worker and I have a grim competition predicting the final toll of this pandemic, and nonsense like this makes me reconsider my prediction of a half-million deaths in this country seem conservative.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Deep in the Lungs of Texas

I just got off a video conference call with a bunch of folks, most of whom I would typically spend a few hours with on a weekly basis, some of whom are friends of friends. Out of the thirteen people on the conference, four have been fighting COVID-19 (successfully, thank goodness). Social distancing is terrible, I get that, but the alternative is worse.

After that personal prologue, I figure that I should just jump into the body of the post... the conspiracy loons have gathered in Austin, Texas at the behest of the evil, crazy grifters of 'Infowars':

Just when the efforts to 'flatten the curve' seem to be working in early onset states such as New York, Washington, and California, these idiots are congregating, pretty much ensuring that there will be a spike in COVID-19 infections in a couple of weeks. At this rate, the country will never see a diminution in the death rate. Thanks, MAGA morons!

Predictably, the crowd turned its wrath towards the one person in the federal government who represents science and sanity:

Madonna, che genti pazzi! These anti-intellectuals will drag a lot of people down with them, because medical personnel are much better people, who will feel obligated to help even idiots who willfully put themselves and others in danger.

The ringmaster behind this Circus of Sickos put in an appearance as well, spouting his lie that the novel coronavirus is a biological weapon:

Here's where I note that, besides pushing conspiracy theory lunacy, Jones also pushes 'supplements' that he claims protect one from COVID-19. If I were a believer in conspiracy theories, I would suspect that Jones and his organization sought to expose their audience members to COVID-19 in order to boost the sales of the 'cures'. For his audience, Jones is like alcohol... besides providing intoxication, he's the cause of, and the solution to, their problems:

Combined with the reopening of Florida's beaches today and a network pushing rallies countrywide, this country is really boned.

The post title, of course, is based on the old standard.

Oh, the viral loads,
Are high in choads,
Deep in the lungs of Texas!

The lying bores
Of Infowars,
Infect the lungs of Texas!

I'm sure this whole thing is a violation of The Cowboy Code.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Michigan MAGA Moron Motorcade

It's an appalling development, coming at a time when this country could turn the tide in its fight against COVID-19 through social isolation, but the MAGA people are growing restless... an astroturfed group of idiots decided to descend on the capital of Michigan to snarl up traffic. Charmingly, a cadre of armed demonstrators posed with their shooting irons on the state capital building steps in order to intimidate the government. Good luck using hot lead against a novel coronavirus, guys.

Titillated and energized by this spectacle of self-harming sycophants, Trump was feeling frisky today on the Twitter, fomenting insurrection against Democratic governors, singling out Michigan, among others:

This uprising is coming at perhaps the worst possible time- when social isolation should be 'flattening the curve', people are gathering in states which are on the cusp of a disaster which is about to spiral out of control. Being a cynic, in a conversation with a coworker, I predicted that a half-million people in the US will die from this thing (being a bigger cynic, he's convinced that it will be a million). I would really, really hate to be right about this, but protests in Ohio and a scheduled protest in Austin don't exactly comfort me.

On a personal note, this chaps my ass because I have friends who are fighting (sucessfully) COVID-19, and a coworker of mine has a day job at a senior care facility which lost seven residents over the past two weeks. This pandemic is a horrorshow beyond the comprehension of most Americans, and these people are just dragging it out, and ensuring that more people will suffer.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Two Flavors of Racism Result in a Flavor Sensation

Last night, I hit a supermarket and a produce store before work. I needed to pick up milk for my workplace coffee habit anyway, so I handled my regular weekly shopping duties as well. The store shelves are pretty well denuded, though mirabile dictu, I WAS able to pick up a package of frozen spinach on a top shelf of an otherwise empty freezer. Meat selections were pretty slim, but I was able to grab (heh) a Dominican cooked salami. I have a familiarity with this product... in my years of working in the South Bronx, I was introduced by coworkers to that most Dominican of breakfasts, mangú con tres golpes, mashed plantains with three 'punches', those being fried eggs, fried cheese, and fried slices of salami. I had never purchased an entire Dominican salami, though, so I decided to do some research into different uses, and I fell down a rabbit hole.

Dominican salami has an... uhhhhh... interesting history, and its mere existence is due to two disparate types of racism. In the Bad Old Days of the mid 20th century, Dominican dictator Rafael Leónidas Trujillo agreed to grant asylum to thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing the expanding Nazi regime. Trujillo's reason for desiring an influx of Jewish refugees was, to say the least, messed up- in the wake of a massacre of Haitians living in the Dominican border region, Trujillo wanted an influx of white immigrants in an effort to 'lighten' the Dominican populace through intermarriage. The racist Trujillo was eager to welcome the European Jews fleeing the racist Hitler... great, just great.

About a thousand Jewish refugees emigrated to the DR, settling in the north of the country. They established farms and food processing businesses, including a meat processing conglomerate that produced European style cooked salami (having faced starvation, many of the immigrants didn't keep kosher). The cooked salami product, inexpensive and having a long shelf life, gained national popularity. It's not, though, the sort of salami that Katz' would send to your boy in the army:

As far as the salami itself is concerned, it's a far cry from the hard, dry salami of my Genovese ancestors... you could cut it with a fine string. It's spicy, but without heat, with a soft texture, almost like that of a pâté. It can be eaten out of hand, but does benefit from a crisping in a frying pan. I also imagine it would be good in a lentil stew, as a substitute for cotechino. It's a tasty product, but its raison d'être is enough to leave a bad taste in one's mouth.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Malice Towards Alice

It's one of my favorite sections of Central Park, between the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Loeb Boathouse, there is a bronze sculpture of Alice and the Mad Tea Party formed by José de Creeft and erected in 1959. It's a charming piece of art depicting a scene from a well-beloved book, well worth a side trip on the way to or from the Met. Recently, some lunatic plotted to blow up the statue.

At first, I thought it was a QAnon freak, given the 'movement's' recent obsession with Central Park's 'Mole Children' rescue. The Anons have long incorporated imagery from Lewis Carroll's books, often filtered through other works such as The Matrix, and 'Follow the White Rabbit' has long been a catchphrase of the conspiracy fantasy:

At first, 'follow the white rabbit' seemed merely to refer to the deep dive away from the mainstream narrative into the depths of conspiracy theory, but recently, it has taken on a new meaning, with the nutters believing that 'white rabbit' refers to the chemical structure of adrenochrome, the oxidized adrenaline that they believe is the drug of choice/elixir of youth used by the sinister cabal that secretly rules the world.

Early on in the span of the conspiracy theory, in typically subliterate fashion, the 'Anons' also used the phrase 'Alice and Wonderland' to refer to Hillary Clinton's cozy relationship with the human rights abusing Saudi regime... never mind that these very same Anons are totally cool with this shit.

Getting back to our Mad Hatter Bomber, there hasn't been enough evidence to conclusively link him with the Q-nutters, suggestive as the circumstantial evidence seems. The guy apparently had anger issues regarding his parents and ex-girlfriend, complete with violent ideation. If the Q nonsense is what finally melted his brain, it wouldn't be the first instance of such radicalization.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Read the Book, Donnie, then Read the Room

In the stream of life-ending incompetence that is the Trump Maladministration, it's the little things that tend to piss me off most viscerally. The crime of children being incarcerated on the border and the skyrocketing death toll from COVID-19 are things that numb the soul, that subside into a constant, dull ache and a tendency to lose sleep, but it's stupid shit like this which makes me want to throw my phone across the room:

It's a weird threat, to be sure, but it's also a window into the mind of this illiterate buffoon. I imagine that Donnie watched the 1984 movie Bounty, starring Anthony Hopkins and Mel Gibson, then turned it off early, when the tits stopped being showcased all over the screen (seriously, besides Mel Gibson, the movie features a lot of boobs, more than the entire 'Porky's' franchise). Anyone who's familiar with the history knows that Fletcher Christian made it to Pitcairn Island with his wife and a crew of mutineers and Tahitian emigrants. He most likely eventually met a sticky end in infighting, but he had a good run, and his descendants still inhabit the island.

William Bligh, on the other hand, while attaining the rank of Vice-Admiral, is primarily known for being a martinet at best, a tyrant at worst, and, because we are free of his authority, a figure to be lampooned:

Bligh did lead his loyal crewmen to East Timor, which demonstrates a competence that Trump entirely lacks. He would be a minor name in the history texts if not for the Bounty mutiny, much like Trump would have been a minor footnote in jocular histories of New York City or television. Bligh's inept handling of the crew of the Bounty assured him of his place in the popular imagination three centuries after the mutiny, just like Trump's presiding over economic ruin and mass casualties will enshrine his name in the history books for centuries to come.

Now, how about a musical number, one which Zombie Rotten McDonald would endorse? Here's the Mekons, singing (Sometimes I Feel Like) Fletcher Christian:

These guys know the full story, and wouldn't have tweeted something stupid.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Total Control?

Life is getting like a Twilight Zone episode these days... I will work a graveyard shift, then go home to sleep for a while and wake up to a completely different world than the one I inhabited when I left for work the previous night. So it was today, when I woke up to discover that Trump believes that his authority is total:

I doubt that any conservatives, usually champions of 'states' rights', will complain about this... it's like they don't have any principles at all!

This press conference was a farrago of lies, accusations, and blame shifting. and has widely been described as a 'meltdown'. He's claiming he has total control, but he can't even control himself. Happily, CNN didn't play along with him, and savaged him in the chyrons they appended to their coverage. He's really going to lose control over that! The idea that his serial failures should result in him having absolute authority is as grotesque as it is ludicrous. Things made so much more sense back at 4AM, when I watched the rain pouring down through the glass doors in front of my workplace.

Not for the first time this week, I've remarked on the fact that we lost Joe Strummer way too young... he would have helped us get through this mess:

At least we still have Mick Jones to help us get through these trying times... we don't have to hold the wolves at bay alone.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

In My Easter Bunker

I've been checking the news to see if the fundamentalists have been carrying out their stated plan to gather in large groups for Easter services, but the big story is that congregations have found alternatives to attending services in church buildings. I guess the prospect of being fined shuts these blowhards up. Fundamentalism is dangerous, and it's not just the Evangelicals who are handling the COVID-19 pandemic badly.

It's here where I note that Easter is perhaps my favorite holiday, mainly because it signals the start of 'springy' Spring, the start of genuinely nice weather, the rebirth of the world as daffodils and tulips come into bloom. There's also all that chocolate... Today was a bit of a bust- a graveyard shift at work, a quick supermarket trip (the frozen vegetable section had been stripped bare, as if by vegan piranhas, except for stuff like okra), and the assembly of a big pot of half-assed chicken gizzard-and-chorizo gumbo (spoiler: I love okra). Mom called, and I texted back and forth for a while with a bunch of people, but it was an odd, odd Easter in my Easter bonnet bunker.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Grief Friday

It's Good Friday, the day on which the world's Christians somberly reflect on the torture and slow, painful execution of Jesus Christ... so let's see how the man the Evangelicals love has commemorated this most solemn day of the liturgical calendar:

Christ wept... the man is an idiot. I can picture him standing at the foot of Golgotha, looking up at the suffering Nazarene and telling him, "You think you've got it bad, the Fake News Media is being mean to me!" Holy Week started off with Facepalm Sunday and it hasn't gotten any better.

Among the lunatic fringe (sorry to be mentioning them in back-to-back posts, but not sorry, I love this stuff), it's a day of full-blown idolatry, according to their stupid number-letter substitution 'code', 4/10/20 corresponds to DJT:

Who needs that peacenik Jesus guy when you can swap him out for the God-Emperor Trump? The nutters had been talking about Ten Days of Darkness, which many of them had interpreted as an internet blackout that would have ended today with the announcement that Hillary Clinton is in Gitmo. Some of them, Rapture Preacher style, revised this to start today, the Dear Leader's Alphanumeric Code Day. Poor things, they are suffering from a bad case of Q Waitus Interruptus.

It's been a weird day, and I'm just reading about these nutbags. I'd spend the afternoon in solemn contemplation of the Passion of the MAGAts, but my time is better spent taking a nap before a big family conference call/happy hour this evening. I'd bust out the bottle of Tullamore Dew, but I have to be at work at midnight.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

War Against the Deros?!?!?

Earlier this week, the fever swamps of the lunatic conspiracy theorist fringe were abuzz with one of their more outré tales, a lurid tale of a fake pandemic staged to obfuscate a fight by the heroic US military forces against the sinister forces of the... uhhhhh... US military. Yeah, the COVID-19 pandemic was staged to keep the public sheltered in place while our good GI Joes fought the rogue elements in service to the Illuminati, or the Reptilians, or perhaps just Hillary Clinton in a campaign to save hundreds of thousands of children kept as slaves/cattle by said Illuminati, or Reptilians, or perhaps just Hillary Clinton. This tale of the DUMBs, told by the dumb, was quickly dubbed the 'Mole Children' conspiracy theory by internet wags. Wonkette's Robyn Pennacchia wrote a post about this subject and the QAnon Anonymous crew recorded a podcast about it. Perhaps the yeoman's work of exposing this lunacy was done by the stalwart Twitter conspiracy debunker Poker and Politics, who wrote extensively about this lunacy.

In a nutshell, the Mole Children conspiracy posits that hundreds of thousands of children, many of them bred like livestock, are kept captive in Deep Underground Military Bases to serve the whims of the evil cabal which secretly runs the world... as sex slaves, as foodstuffs, as a source for that sweet, sweet adrenochrome. In their need to see the incompetent Donald Trump as a hero, the True Believers have spun a yarn about a military campaign waged by the Pentagon Pedophile Team

Recent earthquakes are, obviously, the result of nuclear munitions set off by the Pentagon Pedophile Task Force to destroy the underground military bases which were used for the breeding and imprisonment of the Mole Children, many of whom have never seen the sun and some of whom are 'deformed', perhaps even genetically engineered human/other chimerae. The tent village cum field hospital in Central Park was set up for the rehabilitation of the liberated Mole Children. Oddly enough, the very Trump supporters who decry 'political correctness' and wouldn't think twice about using a racial slur are concerned that the term 'Mole Children' is derogatory. Even worse, they are worked up over fake captive children while supporting a guy who is running kiddie concentration camps on our southern border.

This lurid yarn is basically 'Pizzagate' on steroids, involving a much, much bigger basement (there's also a crackpot 'theory' about child prisons under LA's Getty Museum), but it's also much, much more... please, follow me down one of my favorite rabbit holes.

The Mole Children narrative is a modern update of the mid-twentieth century 'Shaver Mystery', a farrago of pulp science fiction stories that ran in Amazing Stories from 1945 to 1948. Beginning with the story I Remember Lemuria (claimed to be a true revelation conveyed to Richard Sharpe Shaver telepathically), Shaver's tales concern a malevolent race of beings, related to humans through descent from ancient superbeings, that live in caverns beneath the Earth, having been driven there by the sun's radiation. These malevolent cousins of humanity, the Deros (short for 'detrimental robots', with robot meaning a creature without true free will rather than a mechanical person), use 'ray technology' inherited from the common ancestors they share with humanity to cause accidents, manipulate human emotions, and otherwise wreak havoc on unsuspecting surface dweller:

"These ignorant people learned to play with these things, but not to renew them; so gradually they were mentally
impregnated with the persistently disintegrative particles. This habituates the creature's mind, its mental movements, to
being overwhelmed by detrimental, evil force flows which in time produce a creature whose every reaction in thought is
dominated by a detrimental will. So it is that these wild people, living in the same rooms with degenerating force
generators, in time become dero, which is short for detrimental energy robot.

"When this process has gone on long enough, a race of dero is produced whose every thought movement is concluded
with the decision to kill. They will instantly kill or torture anyone whom they contact unless they are extremely familiar
with them and fear them. That is why they do not instantly kill each other — because, being raised together, the part of
their bram that functions has learned very early to recognize as friend or heartily to fear the members of their own
group. They recognize no other living thing as friend; to a dero all new things are enemy.

"To define: A dero is a man who responds mentally to dis impulse more readily than to his own impulses. When a dero
has used old. defective apparatus full of dis particle accumulations, they become so degenerate that they are able to
think only when a machine is operating and they are using it; otherwise they are idiot. When they reach this stage they
are known as 'ray' (A Lemurian word not to be confused with ray as it is used in English.) Translated, ray means
'dangerous or detrimental energy animal.' Ray is also used to mean a soldier — one of those who handles beam weapons
(note how the ancient meaning has come into our modern word)."

The Deros would not only plague humanity with these rays, but would abduct humans to be used as playthings in their evil games and foodstuffs in their grisly larders. The stories being Pure Pulp, these victims were usually portrayed as down on their luck showgirls, rather than the children of the current narrative, which is largely informed by the Satanic Panic of the 1980s. Scantily clad ladies in distress are better subjects for pulp cover art, and it's all about moving product.

The 'Shaver Mystery' was Amazingly popular throughout it's short run in the 1940s until it was eclipsed, then supplanted, by the Flying Saucer phenomenon. Still, its 'DNA' lives on in UFOlogy, particularly in the abduction/hybridization narrative. Deros or ETs (or fairies, for that matter), what's the difference? The Shaver mystery was lampooned by Harlan Ellison, who thought the whole tawdry business tarnished the reputation of Science Fiction, in his short short story The Elevator People:

"E is for ELEVATOR PEOPLE. They never speak, and they cannot meet your gaze. There are five hundred buildings in the United States whose elevators go deeper than the basement. When you have pressed the basement button and reached the bottom, you must press the basement button twice more. The elevator doors will close and you will hear the sound of special relays being thrown, and the elevator will descend. Into the caverns. Chance has not looked favorably on occasional voyagers in those five hundred cages. They have pressed the wrong button, too many times. They have been seized by those who shuffle through the caverns, and they have been . . . treated. Now they ride the cages. They never speak, and they cannot meet your gaze. They stare up at the numbers as they light and then go off, riding up and down even after night has fallen. Their clothes are clean. There is a special dry cleaner who does the work. Once you saw one of them, and her eyes were filled with screams. London is a city filled with narrow, secure stairways."

John Nebel, a precursor to Art Bell, covered the Shaver Mystery a decade after its heyday in a couple of his radio shows. Sadly, Shaver and his Deros are largely forgotten these days, with memory kept alive only by a select cadre of weirdos such as myself. A good source for all things 'Shaver' is the Shavertron website.

To put it succinctly, the Mole Children kerfuffle is an update of the Shaver Mystery, with that most Dero-esque of men, the Id-ruled Donald J. Trump, improbably cast as a hero, supported by a force of... uhhhhh... digital soldiers who save humanity by... uhhhh, sitting on their asses, shitposting on Twitter. I imagine the bulk of them are unaware that they are tapping into a genuine pop culture phenomenon of the 1940s, but these MAGA types aren't exactly known for their memories.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Passover in a Time of Plague

Here's wishing all of my Jewish readers as happy a Passover as possible in this bad, bad times. I'm not Jewish, but growing up in the NYC metro area, I have always had Jewish friends and neighbors, and have attended Passover Seders (we would double up on holidays with our Israeli-American neighbors on numerous occasions). One of the questions posed by the youngest attendee of the meal is, "How is this night different from all other nights?" I imagine, with stay at home orders, this night isn't much different from the preceding fourteen to twenty nights.

These being fraught times, antisemitism is on the rise as conspiracy theorists blame Jews for the spread of the virus. It seems as if nothing has changed in seven centuries.

On a personal note, I found out that a friend of mine tested positive for COVID-19 after feeling run down for a few days. She is two weeks into her battle, but is on the mend (I just got a text from her indicating this). She does, though, know someone who succumbed to the virus at the age of 54. Scary times, indeed!

Here's hoping that everyone stays safe. The COVID-19 pandemic is terrifying, but the accompanying plague of stupidity is even scarier.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Peril from Yonkers, or Deathraceway 2020

I don't usually link to the New York Post, because it's a Rupert Murdoch rag, but I haven't seen this local interest story elsewhere... a COVID-19 outbreak in New Jersey has been traced to Yonkers Raceway, which is about a third of a mile from Casa di Bastard. Oh, poking around the t00bz, I found coverage of this story on a New Jersey news website... one of the trainers at Yonkers Raceway became Jersey's first recorded death from COVID-19. I hope this doesn't harm our standing in the 'safe cities' report. I don't want to see my beloved City of Hills (Where Nothing is on the Level) become known as the City of Peril.

In hyperlocal news, I spoke with my next door neighbor while I was putting the recycling out, and he told me that his brother was sick with COVID-19, but was well on the way to recovery. Since his case wasn't life-threatening, there really wasn't any treatment, it was just a matter of letting his immune system cope with the virus. He himself is essential personnel at work, being on the maintenance crew of a hospital, but it's masks and gloves at all time for him. My upstairs neighbors are doing well, throwing an impromptu one-on-one half-court basketball tourney, with the kids trying to best mom, with little success. I think the tables will be turned by summer's end, when they end up with a height advantage.

The neighborhood abides, with local merchants collecting donations for out of work bar and restaurant staff. I imagine that, when this thing finally runs its course and the stay-at-home order is lifted, there will be a bacchanal that makes the Solemn Feast of St Patrick look like an ice cream social. Goodness knows everybody is a little stir crazy.

Secondary title cribbed from this classic bit of B-Movie sleaze

Monday, April 6, 2020

Discord Among Pals

I’m not a big online gamer, but with the new social distancing normal, a bunch of us have decided to start an online game every week. I set up accounts with platforms such as Steam and Discord. The chat functions are fun, and I’m now currently playing a cutthroat card game with people I’ve known since high school. Sure, it would be more fun to hang out in person, but one does what one can.

Next up, I set up Zoom on another device so I can have two running conversations while gaming and blogging. I am in a new, golden age of multitasking, though all of the tasks are frivolous.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Facepalm Sunday

There's an old adage that warns us that religion is the last refuge of a scoundrel, so one has to question the sincerity of a Mammon-worshiper trying to act in pious fashion:

I bet he had a tab open to a porn site while he was streaming the service...

The real surprise was Trump's post COVID-19 task force meeting presser. In a 'greatest hits' callback, regarding the antibiotic erythromycin, he once again asks, "What have you got to lose?"

What have you got to lose with this medicine which doesn't affect viruses? Well, for one thing, your beneficial bacterial symbionts.

Trump, predictably, also touted the wonders of the poorly tested (for COVID-19) hydroxychloroquine:

Then he tried to muzzle Dr Anthony Fauci, questioned about the effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine:

Yeah, this Palm Sunday is more like a Facepalm Sunday:


Can some enterprising reporter throw a shoe at Trump? I'd pony up for a defense fund. and unlike Trump, I'm not a liar.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Can't Respond to a Crisis Without Dipping Into the Till

One of the most infuriating developments of this week was the revelation that taxpayer purchased medical supplies are being sent to the private sector for sale to the highest bidder. We hard-working Americans are buying supplies twice, the second time at a steep markup. I have no doubt that Trump and his horrible family are taking their vigorish from connected distributors.

The one individual in the country who knows the importance of honest, competent disaster relief is General Russel Honoré, the hero of the otherwise incompetent response to Hurricane Katrina, and the man is livid at the Trump Maladministration's handling of the COVID-19 crisis. The man's last name says it all, and he seems to have no tolerance for the dishonorable.

I can't see this situation remaining sustainable any longer. NATO allies are accusing the US of diverting medical supplies. The supplies sent to US hospitals are sometimes non-functional due to a lack of maintenance sparked by a dispute over a contract. The pandemic hasn't even crested in the hotspots, and it's going to hit the elderly-skewing populations of Florida and Arizona like a two-ton heavy thing.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Who's Zooming Whom?

Catastrophes bring out both the best and worst in people. For every story of noble medical personnel and doughty grocery employees, there are stories of hoarders and grifters and just plain shitty people. Now, with a lot of business being conducted over teleconferencing platforms, the trolls are out in force. In particular, the anime Nazi crowd is waging coordinated campaigns to bombard Jewish schools with antisemitic threats. Flooding conferences with violent porn and racist content is seen by the 3edG5U crowd as a prank, never mind the trauma it can cause the victims, including children at 'learn from home' sessions and individuals in recovery.

I go in to work every day, I receive my briefing in person from the gentleman working the shift before me, and I end my shift by disinfecting the company cell phone and placing it on the desk for the hand-off. I haven't used this teleconferencing software at all. Hell, I don't even Skype or FaceTime, preferring audio phone calls so my attention isn't divided. The poor security protocols for these teleconferencing apps makes me disinclined to start using them. There are a lot of disaffected people out there with poor socialization, and they are bored... that's not a recipe for good outcomes.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Attacking the Responders

Perhaps the surest sign of the rot infecting our society is the fact that threats against Dr Fauci, the individual best equipped to handle the COVID-19 outbreak, have necessitated additional security. The fringiest of the right-wing fringe is convinced that Dr Fauci, a technocrat who has served under Republican and Democratic administrations since the Reagan Era, is a Hillary Clinton supporter who is trying to undermine Trump. The true dead-enders actually believe that Dr Fauci created the coronavirus as a bioweapon... these out-of-work lunatics and Russian trolls are doing their level best to make Dr Fauci a victim of stochastic terrorism.

I see a parallel between the demonization of Dr Fauci and the demonization of climate scientists- these are people who tell 'inconvenient truths', and the cult members who are wed to the right-wing narrative would like to see them silenced, even if that silence is through violence. Ignorance and partisanship just might doom this country.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

No Stomach for April Fools' Day

Ah, yes, April Fools' Day, a day on which pranks and jocular hoaxes are pulled... I just can't play along this year, there's just too much foolishness and duplicity at a time when intelligence and candor is needed more than ever. What good is a day for japery when truth has pretty much gone on an extended vacation? We live in grotesque times, times in which great suffering is taking place in our very communities, yet whackjobs insist that it's all a sham. Sure, there are jokes, but they are appalling and horrific.

There's room for a certain grim humor these days, it's one of the few things that allows us to cope. With a whole lot of snarky people being stuck at home with little to do, it's a banner time for gallows humor:

So, now that every day is a 'fools' day', I'm not going to single out this one particular day.